The Sky's the Limit

Colorado could be courting a winner in the NCAA Tournament.

Basketball junkies who reallylove the college game in all its forms and permutations can but dream of one fantastic scenario. Princeton disrupts the Texas scoring machine late Thursday afternoon and stages a shocker. Then Air Force puts a straitjacket on North Carolina in the evening game and scores its own upset. That sets up a Saturday Night Slowdown between two coaches -- Joe Scott and Princeton's John Thompson -- who served on the same Princeton staff under the great guru Carril. Falcons versus Tigers. A masterpiece of patience, passing and planning. With the score tied 32-32 in the waning seconds, a 5-11 shooting guard no one's ever heard of back on Tobacco Road drains a three and launches his team into the four-team Atlanta Regional, March 26-28.

We all know what happens next. Todd Bertuzzi gets elected mayor of Denver. Osama bin Laden turns up at a bowling tournament in Cleveland. Hillary divorces Bill and runs off to the Florida Keys with Dick Cheney's daughter. They don't call it March Madness for nothing.

Meanwhile, we must also acknowledge the death-and-taxes wing of college basketball in Colorado -- which is to say, the amazing performance of Metropolitan State College of Denver. On the Roadrunners' floor at the Auraria Events Center, hardly anyone talks about "diaper dandies" or Dickie V. or "R.P.I." -- that arcane cocktail of wins and losses and strength-of-schedule ratings by which the big-time basketball schools find their proper place in the world. The only thing hard-nosed coach Mike Dunlap's hard-driven team does is win. And win. And win. At this writing, the Roadrunners are 30-2 on the season. Once again, they are ranked number one in NCAA Division II men's basketball, and their 28-game winning streak is the longest in the nation at any level.

There are no point spreads to worry over in Division II, and ESPN almost never stops by to turn the cameras on top scorers Luke Kendall and C.J. Massingale. But if you're looking for a favorite to win the D-2 championship, look no farther than Metro. It would be the little-known commuter school's third national crown in five years. And while that would be unlikely to stir a ripple of regard in Chapel Hill (or even in troubled Boulder), it would represent the kind of dynasty no college basketball team in a thousand-mile radius of Denver can dream of. Is Metro a sure thing? Not exactly. But the 'Runners have a lot better shot than Kerry in Texas. Or Alabama State against Duke. Or the average undergrad trying to spell "Krzyzewski" after a dozen Bud Lights.

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